I was thinking the other day about one of the biggest food trends lately, Korean tacos. Essentially, the flavours of Korea like Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) combined with the assembly techniques of Mexico. I, then, thought of successful food fusions throughout history. The best example is the French baguette combining with Vietnamese flavours in the Banh Mi. A sandwich with either Vietnamese grilled meats or French patés/charcuterie (headcheese for example) along with fresh vegetables more likely to appear in a Vietnamese salad roll like carrot, radish or cabbage.
That got me to thinking about my own Hungarian-Canadian heritage and how I do love a good Banh Mi sandwich as well. I also love lentils and thought a lentil paté would be a good idea. My vegetable component took a Hungarian twist when I did a quick pickled salad of carrots and parsnips with a maple and hot pepper pickle dressing for it.
The most important step, I’ve found, in making a successful food fusion is if you treat both cultures you are fusing with respect, find complimentary flavours amidst the cultures and assemble with care, you can’t go wrong! 🙂
Roasted Pepper Lentil Paté Banh Mi with Spicy Maple Pickled Carrots and Parsnips
For the Roasted Pepper Lentil Paté:
2 large bell peppers (I used orange peppers, but any colour will work out great)
1 tsp cold pressed canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp celery seeds
4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup dried whole red lentils
2 cups water or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup cold pressed canola oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 210C/425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the bell peppers on the baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes until the skin is blackened on all sides. Remove from the oven, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow the skins to steam loose from the peppers and cool (about 20 minutes). Remove skin, stems and seeds and tear the peppers roughly. Set aside.
In a medium pot over medium high heat, add the oil and onions. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions start to soften. Reduce heat to medium and sauté for a further 8-10 minutes until the edges start to go slightly golden. Add a few tablespoons of water and scrape the bottom of the pan, ensuring the onions caramelize evenly. Sauté for a further 12-15 minutes until the onions are completely golden, adding a few tablespoons of water periodically if the onions dry out and stick too much.
Once the onions are golden, add the celery and sauté for two or three minutes to soften.
Grind the caraway and celery seeds into a fine powder. Combine with the paprika and add half of the mixture to the sautéeing onions and celery. Once the spices are toasted and aromatic add the water and lentils. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the lentils are soft.
If there is any liquid left after cooking the lentils, strain it, retain it, and add it to a wide bottomed pan. Return it to the heat over medium high heat and reduce the liquid by half.
Add the reduced liquid, the cooked lentil mixture along with the roasted peppers, lemon juice, oil, the remaining spice mix and salt to a blender. Purée until smooth. Add a bit more lemon juice or salt if the flavour is not quite to your taste. Some lentils absorb flavours more than others on a given day so a seasoning correction may be necessary from one day to the next. Set aside.
For the Spicy Maple Pickled Carrots and Parsnips:
4 medium carrots, peeled and shaved with a vegetable peeler into long, thin ribbons
2 medium parsnips, peeled and shaved with a vegetable peeler into long, thin ribbons
1/4 cup pickle brine from pickled jalapeños (or regular pickle brine plus a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
In a medium bowl, combine the shaved carrots, parsnips, pickle brine, vinegar, water and maple syrup, tossing together with your fingers. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes (you can make this quick pickle while the lentils are simmering).
Drain away the brine, reserving both the pickle vegetables and brine. Set aside.
2 demi baguettes (half sized baguettes about 20-25cm/8″-10″ long), sliced open lengthwise leaving one long side attached
Prepared Roasted Pepper Lentil Paté
Prepared Spicy Maple Pickled Carrots and Parsnips, and its brine
Green cabbage, thinly sliced
Spoon a few teaspoons of the spiced maple pickle brine along each cut side of the demi-baguettes. Spread the bottom with the Roasted Pepper Lentil Paté. Sprinkle with some thinly sliced cabbage and scatter some Spicy Maple Pickled Carrots and Parsnips over the top. Spoon another teaspoon or two of the spicy maple pickle brine and serve. Serves 2.